New-to-Market North Fork Tavern c.1800, 349K

SO OFTEN ONE SEES listings that date houses inaccurately. Sometimes the listings claim the houses are much more recent than they are, sometimes older. In the case of this former tavern in Southold, N.Y.’s historic district, I wholeheartedly believe the listing date. Based on its boxy shape, steep-pitched roof (the better to shed snow), and most of all, interior photos, the circa 1800 date seems correct.

The map shows it located at an intersection, which would make sense for a former tavern. I don’t know how busy an intersection; that would be key. It’s on 1/2 acre with several outbuildings, including a 19th century barn. The floors are wide-plank, the windows ‘correct,’ and there seem to be original doors and other woodwork. The attic photo clinches it for me; it totally looks 200+ years old.

I say this looks very intriguing, and the asking price reasonable. What say you? Does anyone know the location? The realtor’s listing is here.

North Fork Farmhouse Follow-Up 293K

SOMETIMES YOU JUST HAVE TO SEE FOR YOURSELF. That was the case with the Southold Victorian on the North Fork of Long Island whose listing I blogged about a few days ago. Even though it is more than an hour’s drive and a $30 round trip ferry fare through Shelter Island from my house in Springs, I made the trek on Sunday morning to see just what was wrong with the place for it to be priced so low. I knew there had to be something.

Ah, yes… it is an intriguing situation, and an object lesson in how listing photos can lie. Head on in the photos, the place looks normal: a gabled farmhouse of the late 1800s, with a wide front porch. But there were no photos of the sides or back of the house.

Here’s why: for reasons known only to previous owners, the house had metastasized over the years, with a series of completely and utterly wrong-headed, senseless, absurdly un-designed additions and extensions. What we have here is a demolition project. The whole house doesn’t need to be taken down — just 2/3 of the existing 3,600-square-foot structure (if it can be called a structure), to bring it back to approximately its original size and shape.

There’s very little in the way of old detail, even in the original part of the house, and the rooms have been mostly chopped up with extraneous walls. There are little jigs and jogs that lead to nowhere, closets with windows, room after tiny room so confusing you can’t even tell what’s meant to be the dining room, the living room, or the master bedroom. The whole house is covered with vinyl siding, over 1950s asbestos shingle. Maybe there’s clapboard underneath, or perhaps that’s long gone.

Any bad decision that could be made has been made. There are a couple of roof decks that have no logical access (you have to climb through windows to get to them). They would provide a view of Long Island Sound, which is tantalizingly nearby — a matter of a few hundred yards — but inaccessible, because of fenced neighboring properties, except by roundabout road.

The balusters on the original staircase have been replaced with new Victorian-style ones, below. The floors are newish and mismatched.

The windows in the “best” room, below — a coffered (though low) ceilinged space in the middle of the old part of the house — were replaced with an ugly modern ‘picture window.’

One of the rear additions, below, was meant to be a rec room or family room of some sort. It is dark, water damaged, visibly moldy.

A huge disproportionate growth on the second floor, below, is a sun-flooded room with another modern picture window that should perhaps, if it’s to be anything, be a bedroom or office, has been given over to a crummy-looking Jacuzzi — someone’s idea of a good use of that space.

There are two kitchens (both awful) and 3-1/2 baths, done cheaply and horribly. There are approximately 7 bedrooms.

The only original windows are in the attic, below, reached by a ladder that folds down out of the ceiling.

On paper, the place is exactly what I was looking for when I began my search for an old house on Long Island in early 2009: a Victorian farmhouse fixer-upper in a secluded location — it’s at the end of an unpaved road, on a 1/2 acre lot with abundant sunshine — for under 300K. But the amount of money that would probably have to go into demolition and rubbish carting alone, not to mention rebuilding, makes it no bargain. As you look around, incredulous, the house even begins to seem over-priced (though it is a foreclosure, and offers are being accepted).

On the plus side, the basement looks clean, the circuit breaker panel fairly new. There are two furnaces in undetermined condition, forced-air ducts running hither and yon, and the plumbing pipes have been properly drained and winterized.

Anybody know how much demo costs? If only I owned a bulldozer.

Victorian Farmhouse in North Fork 293K

HERE’S A BRAND NEW-TO-MARKET foreclosure, looking mighty cute — a classic Victorian farmhouse with a front porch and gabled attic. Makes me want to run right out to the East End of Long Island and take a look. It’s at the very end of a road, heavily wooded, a block from Long Island Sound.

Would somebody who knows the area well please let us know what’s wrong with it;-)?

There’s a coffered ceiling in the living room, right, a mantel if not a working fireplace, wood floors, French doors. Nothing wrong with any of that. In another photo, however (the room with red walls, below), there are recessed lights in the ceiling, a symptom of misguided reno somewhere along the line. Making me wonder why there’s no kitchen shot. With luck, the kitchen is “unimproved” since at least the 1930s!

The dining room, below, shows nice high ceilings and more of the dreaded recessed lights.

An overhead of the property on the listing sites reveals a bunch of random outbuildings that might be demolished for more vegetable-gardening space.

See how fantasies begin? Doesn’t take much for this old-house addict in springtime.

For the full listing, go here, or here. You might have to register for all the details. Or do your own Google search: the address is 975 Anderson Road, Southold, NY 11971.

1840s North Fork Farmhouse, 23.6 Acres, $1.2million

LOOK WHAT’S STILL ON THE MARKET: one of my favorite houses from last winter’s house-quest. Only now they’re advertising it for $1.2 million; last winter it was $499,000. How can that be?

Oh, well. The new pricing, less disingenuous than the old pricing, includes 23 acres attached to the house — acres which cannot be unattached, ever, nor sold for profit. That’s because a previous owner cashed in already, by selling the land in perpetuity to the Peconic Land Trust, which insures at least some part of Eastern Long Island will remain forever farmland. The land can be used for agriculture, or rented to farmers, or turned over at break-even. It can’t be subdivided or built on.

It’s a treasure of a house, in Southold on the North Fork, a few miles west of Greenport and a mile from Sound beaches. One of those square Italianate houses you see a lot in upstate New York, with a side porch and a small barn – I’m guessing 1840s – in near-original condition (not to say good). It needs a heap of work, but the architectural character hasn’t been messed with.

More info is here.

The East End’s Early English Houses

I WAS SURPRISED this weekend to realize how many outstanding examples of English Colonial architecture remain on the East End of Long Island.

Below, The Old House, Cutchoguep1030421

While 17th century Dutch settlers in Brooklyn and the Hudson Valley built houses of stone, with barn-like roof gables, and split “Dutch” doors, the English built clapboard houses in their own vernacular, with steep-pitched roofs, prominent central chimneys, diamond-paned windows, and board-and-batten doors.


The oldest English house in New York State is in Cutchogue, on the North Fork. Built in 1649 in nearby Southold and moved to Cutchogue in 1660, “The Old House” was restored in 1940 and designated a National Historic Landmark in 1962.


It’s considered one of the country’s finest examples of First Period (1626-1725) architecture, with  leaded glass windows, below, a massive fluted chimney, and a paneled sitting room that dates to the 18th century (you can see the interior when the house opens for the season in late June).

In East Hampton, on the South Fork, John Mulford’s well-preserved 1680 house, below, on the village green, is one of America’s most significant and intact English Colonial farmsteads. It opens for tours Memorial Day.



Right next door is the c.1720 Home Sweet Home Museum, below, so called because the composer of that song, John Howard Payne (1791-1852), lived there for a time. Like the Mulford house, it is saltbox or “lean-to” style, with a Colonial garden and a windmill on the property — one of several fine old windmills in East Hampton.